Borussia Dortmund restarted their Bundesliga campaign, and showed both their best and worst sides. Newly-signed Norwegian talent Erling Haaland stole the show, reminding Europe that sometimes the hype is real.
Augsburg 3-5 Dortmund, WWK Arena
(Niederlechner 34', 55', Richter 46' - Brandt 49', Haaland 59', 70', 79', Sancho 61')
Sometimes, just sometimes, the hype is justified. Twenty-three minutes after coming on to make his Bundesliga debut, 19-year-old Erling Haaland completed his hat-trick. The teenager changed the game, and undoubtedly saved Dortmund from themselves on an afternoon where the club's best and worst was on show.
With just his second touch and just two minutes after coming off the bench, Haaland arrowed a smart ball by Jadon Sancho in off the far post. He didn't even take a touch to control it; he just turned his large frame and hit it first time. His second was more straightforward, tapping in after unselfish play from Thorgan Hazard, but his third was a goal worthy of astounding adjectives.
Sprinting towards goal from the right wing and nudging the ball forward with the outside of his left boot, Augsburg's defenders closed in, and it looked like the chance might go begging until Haaland nonchalantly curled the ball low into the far corner. It all looked so easy, which was in stark contrast to how Dortmund found most of the game.
One first-half move summed up their travails: was Sancho's pass too far behind Reus or did the Dortmund talisman simply fail to convert with the goal at his mercy? However you looked at it, Dortmund looked like a side with plenty of rust to shake off after the winter break.
Hazard's touch looked off, Manuel Akanji again looked concerningly short of his best and Reus' profligacy in front of goal was the only memorable aspect of the captain's performance. Dortmund were disconnected, sparking but never catching fire.
That changed after the introduction of Haaland. Yet if the Norwegian was the flame, Julian Brandt was the spark. The former Leverkusen man has exploded into life playing in the center of the park, and that was no different in Augsburg. His passing was vertical and consistently cut lines in a way Dortmund desperately needed. It was fitting that when Dortmund looked their most vulnerable, it was a moment of brilliance from Brandt that got them back in the game at 2-1.
But Dortmund are as unpredictable as the Bundesliga this season, and after Brandt had got them back to within one, Florian Niederlechner slid in for his 10th goal of the season to cap a sensational Augsburg move. It was a brilliant goal, the kind Dortmund had spent all afternoon trying to score. Just a minute later though, Haaland came on and Augsburg's great goals and tireless efforts were doomed to be drowned out in headlines of black-and-yellow appreciation.
When Haaland came off the bench, Dortmund were two goals down and seemingly destined to succumb to familiar errors. In many ways, it was a perfect situation for an attacking sub to make an impact. "That's why you bought me," the teenager told Michael Zorc, but not even the sporting director could have dreamed this would happen next.
Not only did Haaland score a treble, but his presence seemed to jolt his teammates back to their best. Touches were tighter, passes were crisper, the surge to goal returned.
It was just 34 minutes but sometimes, just sometimes, the hype is justified.